JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: TRUMP AND THE BADLY-HANDLED SYRIA WITHDRAWAL – TURKEY’S INVASION – PUTIN’S SUCCESS IN REUNITING SYRIA – SAUDI ARABIA’S INEPT AND POSSIBLY-ENDANGERED CROWN PRINCE – IRAN’S NEW PRIDE IN ITS CAPABILITIES – RISE OF RUSSIA’S INFLUENCE IN THE REGION AND DECLINE OF AMERICA’S   1 comment

John Chuckman

EXPANSION OF A COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE BY MARKO MARJANOVIC IN CHECKPOINT ASIA

 

“Syrian Army Enters US/Kurdish-Held Northern Syria to Block Turko-Jihadi Offensive

To do what the Americans won’t”

_____________________________

Response to a comment saying, “Erdogan is about to lose a critical ally (Russia) if this operation persists. I believe a US-led coup against Erdogan is being developed. Russia has caught wind of it and I sense unless Syrian events change, Moscow won’t lift a finger to assist Erdogan.”

It’s impossible at this point to accurately understand the set of real relationships and forces at work here behind the scenes.

First, we have a genuine lunatic in the Oval Office, and one who has failed at almost everything he has tried.

And the (supposedly limited) invasion of northeastern Syria by Turkey, accommodated by American troops stepping aside almost as though by agreement, has now generated dramatic new changes. All American troops are now leaving the area, as are the limited number of other foreign troops, such as the French, Trump had managed previously to dragoon into support. The Syrian army has entered the region to protect the Kurds and oppose Turkey’s invasion. That last important step is the result of an agreement brokered by Putin.

Erdogan, while cunning and gifted in some matters and ruthless, is himself half-mad. Who else builds a thousand-room palace and shoots down a Russian fighter but a madman?

Putin is always thinking. And he uses the weaknesses as well as the strengths of his competitors and associates.

I wouldn’t doubt it at all if more coup plans were being brewed up in Washington, although it’s a little tough with Erdogan having put a good portion of Turkey’s generals and officials in prison, certainly any even suspected of the wrong kind of relationship with Americans, and having taken special measures at key American-Turkish contact points such as the big airbase, following the 2016 coup attempt.

If Putin can get something useful out of Erdogan still, and I think he can, he will protect him from American plots again. After all, that’s what Russia’s S-400 air-defense sale was about, with neither Washington nor Europe being able to turn the air-defense system off (during a coup) as they very much can do with the ones they sell abroad. And besides, Putin is one of the world’s great pragmatists, not anything like Trump who goes around waving his flag in people’s faces and telling everyone publicly just what he thinks of them.

Some have speculated that this whole event represents a clever scheme by Putin and Erdogan to boot the United States out of Syria.

I don’t embrace that, but it certainly isn’t impossible. Upcoming developments will tell us the truth. Putin wants Syrian territorial integrity for a number of reasons. He is restoring the Middle East’s confidence in Russia’s ability to help and to get jobs done, and he’s doing it during a period of people’s losing confidence in America’s dependability. There is also the matter of the future of Russia’s important naval and air bases in Syria being assured.

What Erdogan really hates in Syria is the idea of a Kurd-run entity. He is allergic to Kurds.

Well, you can either fight the entity or its sponsor, which, in this case, is the United States (at least in part on behalf of Israel, someone else Erdogan hates).

With the United States gone, visions of a Kurdish rump state are gone.

This does represent a significant regional defeat for Israel. It regarded the Kurdish rump state as getting at least something out of the larger Syrian proxy war it wanted and assisted, a war which has been lost.

I’m sure Putin is working very hard behind the scenes to have Erdogan halt his invasion. Syria and Russia could placate Erdogan with some special arrangements inside northeastern Syria, removing his concerns about Kurd proximity.

Of course, Erdogan’s concerns may well be, at least in part, excuses for the physical expansion of Turkey. We’ll have to see how hard Erdogan keeps pushing.

He has to recognize the potential for running up against Russian fighter planes and the world’s best anti-aircraft missiles if he puts the Syrians into serious jeopardy or in any way embarrasses Putin. Of course, Russia also has some its remarkable Spetsnaz special forces in Syria. They have been used for gathering a lot of intelligence needed for effective bombing campaigns, ones run a little more conscientiously than some of America’s really destructive efforts in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Still others have speculated that the matter reflects a secret agreement between Turkey and the United States, a speculation fed by the timing of Turkey’s entry and America’s withdrawal. It certainly looks suspicious.

Turkey gets to do what it wants, within limits, to the Kurds, and America gets out from Syria altogether under the cover of not wanting to fight with a NATO ally, instead of having to make some big controversial policy announcement about leaving Syria that would anger Israel and its supporters.

I don’t embrace this notion, either, but it certainly is possible.

The idea would appear to be a little short-sighted by not considering Syria’s response and, of course, Russia’s, but being short-sighted is something both Trump and Erdogan have earned sound reputations for.

Russia has brokered the agreement between Syria and the Syrian Kurds, once again raising Russia’s status in the region. Now, if Russia can manage to stop Turkey’s advance by some combination of efforts not including direct conflict with Turkey, its status in the Middle East will be raised still higher, to begin overshadowing that of the United States, the United States having made blunder after blunder in its frantic and destructive Neocon Wars, as recognized by many.

I noted in a comment recently about Russian engineers having built a military-style bridge across the Euphrates River, the boundary for the region with rest of Syria, a bridge capable of supporting armored vehicles. They did so, apparently, in record time. So, it looks as though Putin was putting things together for the return of the Syrian army to the northeast region.

The United States has just announced that it is sending 3,000 troops plus some new missile systems to protect Saudi Arabia. I do think the added American troops and weapons are at least as likely about the Saudi Throne wobbling as any “threat” from Iran. All clear-thinking people know that there is no threat from Iran, unless you insist on regarding Iran’s mere continued existence as a threat.

The Saudi Crown Prince is starting to look as though he’s in real trouble on several fronts.

There’s still that recent, unexplained mystery of the old King’s trusted, loyal, chief bodyguard being murdered in Jeddah. At the same time, there was a huge fire at the new high-speed train station in Jeddah. We’ve not heard another word about that important matter.

Saudi Arabia is for American affairs a key element in the region, and not just for its oil and its support of the petrodollar. It has become an element in America’s brutal efforts to create a new Middle East, one where Israel is comfortably accommodated in its demands and excesses.

That last idea, accommodating Israel, is something that still would not sit well with most Saudis and perhaps some other members of the Royal Family, so the Crown Prince’s very close ties with Israel, something the United States greatly values him for, are not a public bragging point. He has done many things to earn that status with Israel, including his foolish war in Yemen, continuing the years-long Saudi interference in Syria, and generating serious antagonism towards Iran.

The Crown Prince’s special relationship with Israel is what permitted him to buy tens of billions of dollars worth of the latest American weapons, an unprecedented act by an Arab state. But he has used them badly, and he has burned through a lot of money.

He is, in a word, a bungler, an ambitious and ruthless man of no great talent and one with a lot of serious character flaws. Apart from an infamous brutal murder he undoubtedly commissioned, we see a record new rate of executions in Saudi Arabia, his arrogant and wastrel ways, and the Crown Prince is said to have been a regular at Jeffrey Epstein’s sex playground, which almost certainly was an Israeli-supported hi-tech honey-trap for producing lots of compromising photos of influential people.

The Crown Prince’s losing his place, one way or another, would threaten much of what America has ruthlessly worked towards in the region. Of course, from the view of even some inside Saudi Arabia, the Crown Prince is regarded as a failure who has spent an awful lot of money achieving nothing but the shame of being successfully counterattacked twice by Yemen’s poor Houthi. The brutal Khashoggi murder, while deliberately overlooked by Trump and others who want to keep their Saudi relationship intact, brought waves of international condemnation.

The Royal Family has lots of Princes, and the current Crown Prince was not first in line. He made a lot of enemies with his clumsy early exploit of locking up a large number of wealthy Princes and making them pay him huge ransoms. Ransoms in the billions. The Crown Prince did effectively seize power, while his father, very old and said to be partly senile, formally remains King, but the usurper has not wielded the power well. He has enemies, and now they have every reason to say he is a failure.

Putin, by the way, is, as I write this, visiting Saudi Arabia and had a meeting with the old King to discuss various kinds of future proposed cooperation. He stays right on top of things.

It is also clear from statements coming out of Iran that that country has found a new sense of self-confidence in its brave efforts to face down America’s reckless assault – Trump’s tearing up an important working treaty, his launching almost a total economic war, and his intimidating Iran militarily with fleets and air power.

Iran’s new weapons have proved extremely effective, causing Saudi Arabia to regard it with new respect and to express a desire to avoid war, something it had seemed earlier rather cavalier about. And Iran is managing to export crude oil by various arrangements and subterfuges.

Trump’s failure in the Middle East has been close to total. His only real success might be said to be relations with Israel, but they only represent his airily giving away things that were not his legally to give, as recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and of the legitimacy of Israel’s self-proclaimed annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights.

Other matters we’ve discussed – American troops leaving northeastern Syria, the success and stability of the Saudi Throne, Iran’s new resolve and military pride, America’s declining influence, Russia’s increasing influence – are considered important in Israel, and they represent nothing but failure, viewed in America’s own terms, not in any larger terms of justice and human rights and decency, all of which have absolutely no place in American foreign policy.

Trump, in yet one more of his many clownish flip-flops, has declared suddenly a number of serious punitive measures against Turkey, including a range of sanctions, big new tariffs, and a stop to important trade negotiations, demanding Turkey stop its invasion. If Turkey pays heed, Trump will have done Putin’s task for him.

Indeed, Trump spoke about being prepared to “destroy the Turkish economy,” the kind of violent language of which he is so fond. These measures reflect I think no principles on Trump’s part, but the heavy criticism he has received from fellow Republicans about what he has done in Syria. As I said, Israel cannot be happy, and I’m sure all of their contacts in Congress are hearing about it.

Even people not under the same influences as Republican politicians, people in the region who wanted to see America leave Syria, such as Iran, are not happy about the way Trump managed to do it, causing considerable misery and death (See my last comment, “A STRIKING REMINDER OF THE GLORIOUS REALITIES OF AMERICA’S FIGHT FOR FREEDOM IN THE MIDDLE EAST”)

But there is no talk of American forces opposing Turkey. Indeed, the withdrawal of troops goes right ahead. I think Trump views at least one small achievement in “getting out of the Middle East” as essential for his re-election.

Posted October 15, 2019 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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